Network Instruments Heightens Observer

Network monitoring provider Network Instruments LLC last week tried to race ahead of the protocol analysis pack.

Network monitoring provider Network Instruments LLC last week tried to race ahead of the protocol analysis pack with a rearchitected version of its Windows-based Observer software.

Observer 9.0, targeted at medium-size enterprises, is the first Windows-based protocol analysis and monitoring tool that can support a 4GB memory buffer to better support high-speed networks such as Gigabit Ethernet, said Douglas Smith, president and co-founder of the 9-year-old Minneapolis company. "Windows only allows 100MB to hold [nonswappable] data. Protocol analyzers drop packets when you do swapping. If you have a gigabit network running at wire speed, that gives you an eighth of a second to capture problems," said Smith.

"With Gigabit Ethernet, you have 10 times the data coming through compared to 100M-bps Ethernet. The bigger your buffer, the more data you can capture and you are more likely to be able to see the problem youre trying to solve," said Michael Disabato, senior analyst at Burton Group, in Barrington, Ill.

Observer 9.0, which monitors LANs, WANs, 802.11 wireless and Gigabit Ethernet, adds the ability to support as many as 64 network interfaces across a range of topologies it monitors. New multisession support lets multiple users view the same interface from separate consoles to collaborate on trouble-shooting.

The company also enhanced the user interface to make it more intuitive, and it added new application analysis capabilities to monitor application response time, track application session flows and failed transactions, and view application detail in conversation flows. Application protocols supported include Domain Name System, FTP, HTTP, voice over IP, Telnet, SMTP, SNMP and Oracles TNS (Transient Network Substrate).

The new interface addresses a complexity issue created by the wide range of protocols the tool analyzes, said Chris Berry, president of PC Fix Inc., in Newport Beach, Calif. "The interface was very busy. That turned off a lot of people because they couldnt figure out the interface. They spent a lot of time and effort on improving that. Now the interface is the cleanest that Ive seen of any [protocol analyzer]," Berry said.

The new release, which also integrates with Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView Network Node Manager, is available now starting at $995.